It is natural and understandable that people feel they need certain physical attributes to be successful at Jiu Jitsu. Many times I have heard comments like, “I need to be faster,” “I wish I was more flexible,” “I need to start lifting weights.” Heck, once upon a time I thought this way. And these wishes are good and it is okay to seek this. But lets get real…a 6′ 3″, 240 lbs. man is not going to move as quickly as 5′ 6″, 140 lbs. one! Right? Now there are things the larger man can do to be quicker…but there are limits. There is no escaping physics. Similarly, some people are just made with inherently flexible joints, and some are stiff as a board. Genetics plays a role. Simply put, there are various body-types and they all have pros and cons. Stereotyping for simplicity here, but little guys are weak and big guys are slow…right? Some people are flexible and some are not. Rarely is there a Superman who possesses speed, power and flexibility.
But remember…TECHNIQUE IS KING.
Increasing your physical attributes can be a good thing, as long as it is secondary! The danger is when students put it first. Thinking success in Jiu Jitsu depends on how fast they are or how much weight they can lift. Don’t get me wrong, there can be short term success by being steroided out…but only at the entry levels of Jiu Jitsu. Against novices who don’t have much a technical repertoire. Even if a power-lifter learns enough technique to reach purple belt, he will have a far less sophisticated game than he would have had otherwise. Students who focus on the need to increase strength, speed or flexibility instead of increasing technique short change themselves and their Jiu Jitsu! Continue reading →
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners are constantly forced to deal with reality. This is what gives the martial art its power and beauty. Fakery can’t exist in BJJ. The truth always comes out on the mats. It is one of the main reasons that I love this art more than any other martial art that I have trained in. No fluff, just facts. Reality.
At first this can be a bitter pill to swallow for most people. The “ego check.” It is one of reasons that a majority of the people who step onto the mats quit. Their pride can’t take it. So they deny reality and continue to live in fantasy.
I came into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with a great deal of previous martial arts experience. My first day on the BJJ mats was eye opening. I was completely humbled. I was tossed around, choked and arm-barred with relative ease. At that moment I had two obvious choices: 1) Quit and make an excuse as to why the art was not for me, make a statement such as “I’d never let anybody take me to the ground,” or 2) Accept the fact that I was almost useless on the ground despite my size, strength or previous experience. I chose to accept reality and stayed. Moreover, I embraced my ignorance Continue reading →
– An essential part in learning any skill is repetition. The more reps we do, the more our skill develops. The same concept goes for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. We repeat a technique over and over getting used to the movements. Teaching our bodies. Muscle memory. Conscious brain into subconscious mind/body. Repetition is essential.
As we do our reps we must also hone the technique to its ultimate efficiency. Absorbing feedback from our coach, our partners, and ourselves. Making adjustments to the mechanics (moving parts) so it works better. With each rep there is an opportunity to improve the technique. Be mindful of what you are doing. A simple technique that we already know should be drilled with the same attention as a newer flashy technique or submission.
Continue reading →
– It is easy to understand how an outsider watching Jiu Jitsu would only see armlocks, chokes and the occasional footlock. These are the highly visible aspects of the art. The Submissions! Easily recognized. But they are only the tip of the iceberg. The dedicated practitioner of Jiu Jitsu will gradually get a deeper and deeper look underneath the surface. Seeing the depths that are hidden to the untrained. How deep one goes depends on two things: Mat time & Mindset.
Mat Time? Easy. Train consistently and often. 2 to 3 classes per week minimum is recommended.
The correct mindset is helpful to achieve mastery in Jiu Jitsu. With the wrong mindset we can only go so far in the art.
Continue reading →
Hard Work, Consistency & Patience
Three main things that will guarantee proficiency is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu: Hard Work. Consistency. Patience.
Hard Work: Time is a precious commodity. Make the most out of it. When your on the mats for an hour, fill that hour with Jiu Jitsu. Be in the moment. Let everything that isn’t Jiu Jitsu go for that hour. Total Immersion. After class, normal life can resume. Drill technique as much as you can. Roll when you are tired. Take Breaks when needed, but we should always roll when we are exhausted. That is when we learn about energy efficiency.
Consistency: Train often. Make it a habit. Balance work, family and other adult responsibilities, but honestly examine how you spend your free time. Cut out the waste and fill it with Jiu Jitsu. Proficiency comes from mat time.
Patience: No great thing is created suddenly. Jiu Jitsu is an incredibly complex Continue reading →
Certainty is the Enemy of Growth
Are you certain you know this technique or that? Are you sure you know the basics? One of the most disgusting things I can witness on the Jiu Jitsu mats is “experienced” belts lounging about during drilling time because the technique of the day is too basic. Really Mr. Blue/Purple/Brown Belt? You know BJJ fundamentals 100% perfect? You’re already too good at Jiu Jitsu and drilling is just a waste of your time? I have seen this many times. One or two reps (when the instructor is looking) then its fucking off for the next 15 to 20 minutes until sparring starts. The comments, “yeah, I got this one down already” gets thrown around all the time.
RECOMMENDATION: Never be certain you know ANYTHING in Jiu Jitsu 100%. When presented a technique that you have drilled a thousand times before, drill it like it’s your first time. Drill the hell out of it! be super-mindful about everything in that technique. Drill like a beginner…even the so-called “boring” techniques (ie., non-submission or non-sweeping techniques). If you do this, little by little, you will peel back layers and get a deeper understanding of the technique. Even “simple” techniques have an amazing amount of complexity to them. To gain that knowledge you must drill like a beginner.
Mindset Principles Explained
MUTUAL BENEFIT & RESPECT: Training in Jiu Jitsu is not a one-way street. it is important that we think of our teammates and training partners as ESSENTIAL to our development in this art. We gain more when we increase other’s skill sets. “Iron sharpens iron” is a BJJ motto that fits well with this mindset principle. As we train we should never forget that as our partners skills increase so do our own. We should never “use” our teammates solely for our own ends. They are not fresh meat to beat up and leave behind. If everyone had this selfish mindset progress would be stagnate and the dojo would be an ugly place to be. For the practitioners with more experience never forget what it was like to be brand new. This mindset reminds us that we MUST help raise the lower belts up. And in doing so we benefit because they will push us further. The goal of any BJJ teacher should be to have his students get so skilled as to constantly challenge him. Thus, with this cycle we evolve…together.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR TRAINING PARTNER: Cause no injury! Because we cannot learn Continue reading →
Resistance Training Method
Many things set Brazilian Jiu Jitsu apart from other martial arts. One of them is how we train the art. That is, with the use of active resistance. We do not rely on the cooperation of our partner (opponent). We EXPECT resistance. We expect the other person to put up a fight and not allow us to do what we want. We spend roughly half our training time drilling techniques. Learning the mechanics of certain moves. How the use of angles, leverage and physiology works in certain situations. The nuts and bolts of technique. Move your arm here, grip here, place your elbows here, etc. The other half of our training is dedicated to sparring or “rolling.” This is where we test out our skills against partners (opponents) who are actively resisting us and also attempting to affect us with their techniques. This is the APPLICATION OF TECHNIQUE part or how we link these drilled techniques in a dynamic situation. This RESISTANCE is a vital part of what make BJJ powerful. It keeps the art’s teeth sharp. Some other arts may use this Resistance Training Method (RTM). Judo, Wrestling and Sambo come to mind. This RTM gives us feedback in the manner of cause/effect. If we do a technique wrong or FAIL, we are rewarded with reality. No false sense of security here. If the technique is weak then the technique is weak. The other benefit with “rolling” is the need to learn TIMING and CUE RECOGNITION (I’ll talk about these another time)
So, failure is inevitable. Don’t aim for it, but accept it. Better yet, embrace failure! Because every time a technique fails it is automatically error-correcting. Bit by bit the technique is refined through failure. We owe this to the RTM of BJJ. Our technique is forged through the fire of failure again and again. With patience, grit and gratitude we hone our techniques into truly deadly weapons.